A friend once told me that he had never dated a woman with whom he didn’t have sex on or before the second date. Another man told me that he estimated that he had had sex with about 200 women. A porn star wrote that the great accomplishment of the decade of the ’60’s was to separate the subjects of sex and love.
These people know a lot about having sex with multiple people. I don’t know this, all I know from personal experience is marrying a virgin as a virgin and staying faithful.
But I do know something of the other side from my experience as a psychiatrist. Some of my patients are prostitutes. So I get to see the sad emotional scars that loveless sex leaves on the soul.
The most important art of a psychiatrist is the ability to build trust. Before I can really help a patient over the long term I need to get them to tell me what is really bothering them. In fact, I should get them to tell me things that they don’t even know about themselves. This often means hearing about early childhood abuse, the resentments they have toward their parents, the reasons that their relationships have gone wrong.
These are intimate details. You don’t normally tell these things to a stranger. But my job is to not be a stranger, but rather be like your diary, a blank screen or piece of paper upon which you write your thoughts and discover things about yourself.
I am good at my job. People do trust me with all of these details. Details which would keep you awake at night. My method of saving my sleep is by turning over these stories to God in prayer.
But there is one group of patients who have great problems in the area of trust: the professional sex workers.
It is hard for people to understand these ladies unless you have worked with them. They have an amazing diamond-hard surface. Oh, they have few reservations about telling me about their abuse experiences. They tell me about their drug use, their arrests. They are not a bit ashamed. They have few normal boundaries. But what they do have is a deflection of anything that might appear to be intimacy. They appear, to me to be like a velcro strip that has been used too many times. It no longer adheres.
I understand why they are like this. It is a basic ego defense mechanism. I complement them on it. I tell them that their refusal to trust me is, in fact, a sign of health. They have not (yet) broken down into psychosis and paranoia. What bothers me is that I know that this is in their future. Even if they survive into middle age, the suicide rate among sex workers is unimaginably high.
So what makes sex work so much different from even murderers? (Yes, I have treated them also). I believe that the hardness is precisely because they have succeeded in separating sex from intimacy. In so doing, they have damaged their ability to develop intimacy of any sort. They built their ego shell and then became imprisoned behind it.
So what does this tell us about multiple sex partners. Ok, so the normal horn-dog player does not have sex with 50 strangers in a day. But the same process that turns the prostitute into a hardened diamond also is at work with the people who do one-night stands on Friday night. The heart automatically looks for intimacy and begins “becoming one” with the sex partner. But this is then ripped away the next morning and a piece of soul goes with it.
Listen, God knows what he is talking about when he tells us that fornication is a work of the flesh. The works of the flesh are all destructive. God doesn’t tell us to keep away from them because they hurt him, but because they destroy us!